The Holiday Spirit is an impish, little brat.
On this night, it was lurking around the Christmas Tree Lot, where a particularly witty Sister Madly wandered about with the Professor. Naturally, Sister Madly provided appropriate commentary that added a festive note to the evening, her snark being so on point that she was looking forward to watching the Professor attempt to tie a large tree to the top of a rusty hatchback.
But the Professor had no intention of tying the tree to the top of the car, oh no; a tree of such Yuletide majesty deserved to ride in luxury inside the car.
Sister Madly, too, deserves to ride inside the car, Professor…
Still, the realization that the Tree wouldn’t fit in the back of the hatchback took longer for the Professor to acknowledge than it would for those with fewer letters behind their name. As predicted, Sister Madly’s wit was so on point during this exhibition that it was cheekily suggested that she be tied to the top of the car instead.*
* One might assume that this was the Professor’s attempt at humor, but Sister Madly assures you otherwise.
It was then that Sister Madly was first tempted by the Holiday Spirit, which nearly resulted in her volunteering to take public transportation back to HQ for the sake of the Evergreen. However, the possibility of encountering something far worse than a sentient Pine Tree on a city bus gave her the strength to resist the Holiday Spirit and retain the dignity of her sassy ol’ self.*
* Which is most fortunate- a holly-jolly Sister Madly is an absolute nightmare.
But the witty little Moppet did not escape this magic of this Hallmark Moment. As the Professor acknowledged that that only way that the Tree would fit would be to utilize the passenger’s seat, the Holiday Spirit took possession of Sister Madly and volunteered through her to switch places. As a result, the Tree rode shotgun with the Professor while Sister Madly was packed rather unceremoniously into the back of the hatchback
And that was when the Holiday Spirit made itself at home: not only did it demand to listen to campy Christmas music- something which absolutely delighted the Professor- it suggested they take “back way” of unimproved roads and potholes. Even as Sister Madly watched herself become covered in pine sap, excess needles* and some sort of rash, she could not stop the Holiday Spirit from assuring the PhD that all was just peachy-keen* and to turn up the music- Mele Kalikimaka was simply not going to sing itself!
* The Shake-The-Needles-From-The-Tree contraption at the Lot was no match for Hatchback-Over-Potholes.
But while the Holiday Spirit maintained full-possession of Sister Madly over the river and through several rounds of Feliz Navidad, it was, alas, no match for Do They Know It’s Christmas. This diabolical little ditty not only succeeded in exorcising the Holiday Spirit from our dearest Moppet, it sent said Spirit out into the street, where it was promptly run over by a dairy truck.
As with all Magical Holiday Tales, there is a moral to this story: there is a certain beauty in using artificial trees, which allows the thrifty to reuse said tree again and again without the need of packing thy beloved Moppet into the trunk of your car. Take for instance Sister Madly’s tree, which once belonged to her grandmother- not only has it withstood the years, but remains amazingly lifelike, as you can clearly see:
Well, maybe not a moral so much as a reason to post a picture of the Madly Christmas Tree…
Sister Madly, too, is an impish, little brat.
CHANA MATAR PANEER
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 TBSP garlic, minced
- 1 TBSP ginger, minced
- 1 chili, seeded and diced
- 15oz tin chickpeas; drained
- 15oz tin tomatoes, crushed/diced
- paneer, cubed
- 2 TBSP garam masala
- 1 TBSP coriander
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp cumin
- ½ tsp cardamom
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- salt/pepper, to taste
- heavy cream, to taste (opt)
- ghee/oil, for sautéing
Sauté onion until translucent; 8-10 min
Add garlic, ginger, and chili; sauté 3-5 min
Add spices; sauté 30 secs
Add tomatoes, chickpeas, and stock; bring to a boil
Reduce heat; simmer 20 minutes
Add peas; simmer 5-8 minutes
Add paneer; simmer 3-5 minutes
Mix in cream (if using) simmer 2-3 minutes
* Be sure to visit Heliophile’s Diary for authentic Indian recipes. Yum. ;c) *
THEME SONG: Mele Kalikimaka, Bing Crosby
…and when they had opened their treasures,
they presented unto him gifts of Gold, Frankenstein, and Murder…
Every December, Sister Madly’s mother would spend a week baking up to 40 loaves of bread while listening to Lawrence Welk and the Mexicali Brass. A young Sister Madly would then reluctantly deliver half of this bounty with her elder sister, Tallulah, to neighbors they hardly knew- many of whom lived far beyond the acceptable distance of ‘neighbor’- while dragging a red wagon through several feet of snow.
But this tradition was not limited to neighbors.
While no child looks forward to a school day, no morning was as dreaded as the day before Winter Break, when Mother Madly handed over a loaf of bread as a gift to the bus driver. When Sister Madly first heard the term “cruel and unusual punishment,” this scenario is what came to mind.
However, the argument of which Madly Sibling (the elder Tallulah or the most magnificent Sister Madly) was to give said Bread to the Bus Diver was beans compared to the argument of whom would carry the Bottle of Champagne the following day.
The Darrow’s, you see, lived 4-doors down (Sister Madly used to play- most discreetly, of course- in the weird tar-pit thing behind their house.) And every year, the Darrow’s would gift the Madly girls a bottle of cheap Champagne in return for the annual Loaf of Bread.
For Sister Madly, this was much worse than the whole Bus Driver thing; people might actually think the Champagne belonged to her. They might think that she, a wanton, 5 year-old Moppet, had wasted every cent of her allowance on its purchase, and there was no way that she could prove otherwise. And the Champagne didn’t even come in a proper paper bag, which is how it was consumed by the Elite on the streets; no, Sister Madly’s bottle had a shiny, red bow tape to it.
Then came the horrifying thought: what if her own Mother thought that Sister Madly bought the wine for herself? Her parents had stopped drinking some years before, and the bar in the basement now held a bizarre assortment of Care Bears and Cabbage Parch Kids… if a bottle of Champagne should appear within their midst, it would bring no end of trouble….
But there was no time for this worry, as one such delivery spree found a pom-pommed Sister Madly hauling 3 Loaves of Bread all by her lonesome. Tallulah had been forgiven of all delivery obligations that evening after befriending a classmate who had the cheeky audacity to be born on that particular date some years before, and who wanted to celebrate the fact with something called a “party.”
Even at the tender age of 5, Sister Madly had anti-social tendencies; she had absolutely no desire to knock on the doors of her Bread-less Neighbors, and succumbed to a magnificent tantrum somewhere between her front door and her Neighbor’s driveway. After spending an eternity (i.e., 2-3 minutes) fussing about, Sister Madly utilized her Red Wagon in such a way that allowed her to slide the Loaf of Bread into the oversized mailbox* without a word to her long-nosed neighbors.
With her mission technically complete, Sister Madly trotted home, confident in the fact that she had rebelled against the unknown universe with her little Red Wagon and a knitted, Pompom Hat.
5 stupid hours of pointy hell later, Sister Madly’s apartment is
finally festive. She will be calling upon one of you next year to set
up this tree for her. She may even buy you a cider for your trouble.
* Re-post from 2014. Or somewhere around there.
In civilized society, one never promotes a holiday before its season. Seeing as Utopia resided on the edge of civilization, Management flirted with this unspoken decree by requesting that Sister Madly, despite being a swingin’ bachelorette, create a window display for Valentine’s the day after Christmas.
Now, some might say that embracing the pink holiday before the New Year is a bit premature, but no one has ever accused Management of abusing logic; and as she was far from civilized herself, Sister Madly set about creating a Love Fest so romantic it would put Cupid out of business and into months of intensive therapy.
As none of her co-workers were willing to donate their anatomical hearts to fulfill her artistic vision, Sister Madly had to rely upon actual merchandise, including the Lovers Tarot, several copies of the Kama Sutra (including the pop-up edition full of mechanical witchcraft) and more than enough incense needed for chemical warfare. Indeed, one would not look at this menagerie of color and romance without being filled with all the chalky heart-shaped joys of Valentine’s, bypassing the quiet melancholy of January where contemplation over World Peace and whether anyone really uses the word acquiesced* aloud routinely abides.
* Or crestfallen. Nonplussed…
It wasn’t long* before the window display worked its marketing magic on a prim and proper spectator, and lured the waif oh-so seductively into its psychedelic love web.
* Approximately 27 days, 3 hours, and 46 seconds.
While it was difficult to discern the woman’s opinion of this glorious masterpiece, the back of her head looked awfully critical. No doubt within this wandering individual common sense reigned supreme, disturbing her soul with the instinct that Valentine’s should never be promoted 7 weeks before its appointed time.
However, the subsequent symphony of tongue-clucking and aggressive sighing assured Sister Madly that this was not the case, as Miss Prim and Proper announced to no one in particular that she was seriously offended by the pop-up Kama Sutra.
Now, one might assume that the person making a fuss over the Kama Sutra is the one who needs it the most; Sister Madly, however, knew better than to make such assumptions. Perhaps the lady was frustrated for another reason, such as the growing price of avocados, or the invention of the banjo; perhaps she was irritated over how the heated sidewalks malfunctioned that day,* leaving them covered in snow and ice.
* Sister Madly, too, was rather piqued over this malfunction: she fell on her bum twice.
Contrary to popular belief, only 20% of the Kama Sutra is about the creative side of copulation. The popup version of this book, however, focuses exclusively on that 20% and is best not left within the reach of children- unless you are prepared to have some rather frank discussions with your offspring.
Then again, when one considers the population of India in comparison to the rest of the world, one cannot help but acknowledge the success of that 20%…
“There is no such thing as KARMA!”
As it turned out, Miss P&P’s distress was not over the playfully explicit material, but the concept of Karma. This tongue-clucking contempt for Eastern Mysticism led to a zealous sermon about the evils of meditation, the dangers of yoga, and would finish in approximately 15 minutes time with a store-wide exorcism that included casting demons out of the stack of Cthulhu* knit hats.
* Actually, it was an octopus- but the hats sold better when the creature was labeled as ‘Cthulhu.’ Marketing.
There was a moment when Sister Madly considered informing Miss Prim and Proper that she had- quite understandably, actually- misread the title; but then Sister Madly would have to explain that the Kama Sutra was not a book regarding the mystical principles of Cause and Effect, but an interactive novelty featuring innovative and often athletic positions of physical intimacy.
It was the classic no-win situation.
Face it, Sister Madly: either way, you are about to be exorcised.
SOUTHWEST STUFFED CHICKEN WINGS
- 20-24 chicken wings, deboned, tips intact (tutorial here)
- 1 cup chicken, cooked and diced
- 1 small onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 chili, chopped and seeded
- 1 red/orange bell pepper, chopped
- ½ cup corn, drained
- ½ cup black beans, cooked, drained and rinsed
- 1 tomato, diced
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- ¼ tsp smoked paprika
- ¼ tsp chipotle
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 – 1½ cups shred cheese
Sauté onion until translucent: 5-8 min
Add garlic, bell pepper, and chili; sauté 5 min
Add spices; sauté 1 min
Add corn, beans, tomato, and chicken; sauté 5 min
Cook out any excess water
Add cheese; mix until melted and remove from heat
Preheat oven to 400*
Spoon mixture into in each wing, filling entire cavity
Secure cavity w/toothpicks
Season wings with salt and pepper
Place wings on greased baking rack in tray
Bake for 45 min, or until cooked through
THEME SONG: Karma Chameleon, Culture Club
Not very long ago
In a neighborhood relatively nearby…
~ Created by Tom BetGeorge
When it comes to the general public, the most dangerous plant on the face of the Earth is not a mutated Venus Flytrap, nor is it Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, or a Cactus.
No, it is this thing:
Because those compelled to obey the Mistletoe are never the ones you want to heed the call.
And because you never know where the Mistletoe is going to turn up, like in a Quonset-Hut-turned-Chinese-Bar at the annual gathering of The Creepiest People on the Planet; or at the Blue Moon, where Sister Madly once danced with South American, or at the Professors’ Chanukah/Solstice/Christmas Fusion Party. As to which holiday was being celebrated at said party, that all depended upon to whom that question was directed.
So it was with the usual desperate holiday cheer that the Professors blasted Sister Madly from her lovely, toasty, velvet cocoon of a bed that morning, with a message informing her (or as they insisted, reminding her) of the aforementioned party a mere 30 minutes before Sister Madly was expected to be there- with a smile, hopefully, but that part was negotiable.
Due to the Professors’ unease of her questionable culinary skills- specifically, her penchant for blue mushrooms and purple potatoes- it was determined long before Sister Madly even knew there was a party that she would be in charge of the decorations thus eternally banished from the kitchen. Any and all pre-party snacks were to be slipped to her beneath the door for the duration of the pre-party preparations; those treats that were lost to the cats in the process were regarded as inevitable sacrifices to the cause.*
* That last part made sense to her at the time.
It was also requested that she not set fire to the German Pinwheel thingy this time around.
Thus Sister Madly arrived on the Professors’ doorstep as requested, all big-haired and bleary-eyed, armed with cider, Mistletoe, and not one blue mushroom or purple potato. She even went so far as to tuck away her German Pinwheel Pyromania in the back of her car- out of arm’s reach, surely, but still within the vicinity should the night call for it.
Now there are times in which Sister Madly feels that, amongst the Professors, her presence goes largely unnoticed while her absence is never quite forgiven. Perhaps this is why her unladylike thundering about was overlooked that day as she proceeded to hang Mistletoe in every doorway, in every non-doorway, over every available chair, over the designated snack table (which she quickly removed, as Sister Madly wanted unrestricted access to this location) over the bar, even over the most strategic location in the bathroom.
Her Mistletoe masterpiece, however, was reserved for the basement:
So while the Professors were upstairs blissfully drinking and cooking (but mostly drinking) amongst the cupboards of painted birds, Sister Madly was gleefully transforming the Enchanted Forest of Happy Little Trees below into a Magical Wonderland of Latent Kisses. Yes, shrubbery… shrubbery everywhere.
Why Mistletoe, you may ask. To begin with, one must understand the mistletoe folklore in Western Culture: while a man is permitted to kiss any woman standing beneath the mistletoe, bad luck would befall any woman who refuses his kiss- which is why Sister Madly will be hanging out on the front porch with a case of cider. Alone.
Mistletoe is also associated with fertility- another reason you’ll find Sister Madly out on the front porch with the cider. Alone.
So why mistletoe?
Because everyone deserves a chance to be kissed.
Because everyone deserves a moment of magic.
Because it was quarter to 11 in the morning and a grumpy, sleepy-eyed Sister Madly was in need of holiday decorations pronto.
It was just after 6 when the Professors, with their mulled wine and their wassail and cheese cubes on a stick, first found themselves gazing upon the Magical Wonderland of Latent Kisses, with looks of either awe or utter horror at the fact that, no matter where they stood in that basement, they were within a few inches of a kiss.*
* It was horror, no question about it.
This work of art Sister Madly likes to call A Thousand Kisses Deep.
And that was when the first group of guests began to arrive.
THEME SONG: A Thousand Kisses Deep, Leonard Cohen